Saturday 2 April 2016

Space Alien at Planet Dad

Space Alien at Planet Dad by Lucinda Gifford (Scholastic Australia)
PB RRP $15.99
ISBN 978-1-76015-368-7

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Jake loves spending Saturdays at Planet Dad. He and his father have an awesome time together. They have intergalactic battles, build rockets and eat meals fit for space explorers. But one Saturday Jake arrives to find a space alien at Planet Dad. Jake tries his high-glare-laser-beam, his invader blaster, even his sonic boom but nothing seems to budge this Space Alien. Will things ever get back to normal? Will he ever get his Dad back for himself?

This is a wonderfully imaginative and entertaining story about a young boy dealing with his dad’s new relationship, the ‘alien’ in his space. Being told totally from Jake’s (space-obsessed) perspective makes it really accessible and relatable for other children who find themselves in Jake’s position. Split marriages and blended families are situations that many children need to navigate.

The words often become part of the illustrations which are bold and loud. The colours are used well to indicate emotions. Warm oranges and yellow create a cosy glow when Jake and Dad are building together, while lots of red and icy blues are used when he’s angry.

The characters are well-drawn, both in pictures and words, making it easy to feel for all three in the emotional triangle. The story is told with humour and empathy. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it and am sure many children will too. This is a great picture book to read to three year olds and up.

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